Get Down (sizing, that is)!

There has always been a part of me that was intrigued by the idea of tiny living. When I was a child, my mom had a friend that lived in a tiny home. My memories of it were the cozy use of the space. The friend had every space filled and while I believe I picked up on the idea that she was there because it was what she could afford at the time, I loved the packed in beauty of it. Her daughter had a bedroom that was the size of a closet. In hindsight, that was likely what it was, but to the mind of a 7 year old, it was like a playhouse. Even as I grew a bit older, the idea pulled at me. I remember after my parents divorce, moving into a house and having my bedroom and deciding that I wanted the closet as my sleeping space. It was oddly shaped and I loved that it felt like a secret room with nooks and crannies that were filled with secrets only I knew.

I had a wildly active imagination.

I still do.

So moving into a travel trailer didn’t seem that crazy. Taking all the possessions I had managed to acquire after 20 years of living in a 1600 square foot home and somehow squeezing them into a space that was less than 300 square feet tugged at those same places in my heart. I mean, how difficult could it possibly be?

Difficult. Very, very difficult.

I hadn’t realized that I had accumulated so many things. I mean, I knew I had a lot of stuff, but I didn’t know. It didn’t seem like I had that much. I had a reputation for being the one to get rid of things. Purge the environment and free yourself from the burden of having so many things! Except that I still had a lot of things. Did I have as many things as if we had decided to live in a house twice as large as the one we were living in? We had considered moving at one point. Buying that bigger home in the ‘burbs. Filling it with the things we thought we “needed” and would give us the life we thought we wanted. But we didn’t, so surely, I had just a few things to do away with. I was so wrong. So, so wrong. When we left last year, we gathered the things we thought we would need into the RV for our first year out and then took the rest of the possessions I had no idea what to do with and put them in one of the bedrooms in the house we decided not to sell right away. Oh, and left the things I didn’t want to face in the attic, garage and basement. So while I likely did find us to have fewer things than the average American, we did not have few things.

We left with the knowledge that we would return next year and decide where would go with the rest after we knew whether this was a one year trip or something we would invest in longer.

Interestingly enough, some of the things that we had brought with us, didn’t seem quite as important once we were gone. Did I really need my booties, my 8 pairs of flips flops (yes), my converse sneakers AND my cowboy boots? Did I need 30+ dresses, multiple t-shirts, running clothes, leggings, jeans, dressy shirts and sweatshirts? I did not. We purged even the things we had brought with us in this first year. And while I knew this was a very big step and hugely eye opening, I had the weight of knowing we were going to go back to our sticks and bricks home and would have to face “the room”. What was I going to do with the dishes, the linens, the toys, the CRAP I had still in that room? I had more clothes there! More. Clothes! I wasn’t even wearing all of things that I had brought with me and I had more? What the hell was wrong with me? It became a point of anxiety for me the closer the date to return was. What was I going to do with all of that stuff? Give it away? Sell it? Keep it? Some of it was a gift or had sentimental meaning. I mean, come on! How would I ever decide what was important enough to keep and what needed to go?

When we arrived back in Fort Wayne, I avoided the house for a few days. I didn’t want to face the attic, the garage, “the room” with all of the things that were waiting for me to face them. So when I finally went, I picked what I thought would be the easiest: the attic. I took my trusted friend Rose and my resolve to live the life I knew I wanted and climbed the stairs into the room closest to the sun (I am certain it may have actually been on the sun because it was that hot in there) and brought down box after box after box of stuff that I had accumulated. Some of it was easy. Did I need these books that I had obviously forgotten about over the years? Nope! Gone! Did I need the curtains or decorating crap that I had thought I would reuse but never did? It’s outta here! But some of it was so hard. Christmas ornaments and toys and my children’s memorabilia all there, expecting to make the cut. I emptied the entire attic in one day and immediately removed the things that I knew were a no and added the harder things to “the room”.

I left the garage to Shannon. It was an avoidance to some extent, but I justified it by reminding myself that most of that stuff was his anyway.

Eventually, of course, I had to face “the room”.

I attacked the easy things first. Our son was moving into his first apartment and needed some things, so I had a person I could give a few things to that would be helpful to him as he faced the world as a real adult. We had all of things that a starting out adult needed. So boom! First round of purging done.

And I tackled the things that seemed important a year before but seemed less so after we had enjoyed our tiny space. I decided that I wasn’t going to keep most of my winter things. I have no intention of spending time in a place that has Indiana winters again. Even if we bought a house and set up a permanent space, winter wasn’t going to factor into that if I had anything to do with it. So winter boots, coats, gloves, hats, etc… gone. I did keep a bit of each thing for possible colder hiking or running, but nothing else. I got rid of anything that didn’t fit or I hadn’t even remembered I had. I wasn’t going to hold onto the “maybe if I finally lose the weight again” clothes because it just made me feel bad and if that happens, I’ll be more than happy to buy something that fits at that time. Freed up some space without feeling too much pain.

So confession time…

I sat in “the room” for a while. Looking around. Unable to completely purge it all and finally resolved to making 3 seperate piles. There was the donate pile. There was the sell pile. There was the put in storage and think about it in a year pile. Yes, I decided that I was unwilling to part with everything and decided that parting with more things, but allowing myself the freedom to keep some things was my only course of action.

I had things from my children I could not part with. There were things from my own childhood that held special meaning. And let’s be real here, I was not going to get rid of the multiple running medals that I had earned over the last 12 years. I valued those like they were actual gold and I wasn’t about to say goodbye. So Shannon and I sought out the smallest storage unit we thought we could get away with and decided that as long as it fit in that unit, it could stay. If it wasn’t going to fit, if we filled it too much, we would reevaluate the need for the thing and go forward from there.

Oddly, that made it a bit easier to let go of more things. I found a women’s shelter I could donate to and got rid of more clothes, household items and toys. It was liberating. I got rid of games and movies and electronics and decorating items. All of things seemed so important at the time, but now I could just release them. Give them to someone who might be able to beautify their space or their body and feel happy with them in their space. It seemed like it made more sense than for me to hold on to them simply because they were mine. The more I gave away, the more I wanted to give. I felt happy giving to people who needed these things. I no longer did.

When I finally took the last box out of that room, I swear it was almost a spiritual moment. I did keep some things, but they were things that I felt okay about keeping. It wasn’t because they held some power over me.

The crazy thing is that as we have been back on the road again, I discovered a podcast about minimalism and I know when I go back to face that storage unit, I will be able to remove even more from my life. Because things don’t make my life feel meaningful, experiences do. People do.

I am living in the tiny space that my 7 year old self thought would be the best. I have things around me that mean something and I’m doing things that fulfill me. I still have as many flip flops as I can convince Shannon I need (7 pairs) and too many running clothes and t-shirts. But the things in our home bring us joy and feel special to us.

As the Minimalists say in their podcast, “Love people, use things. The opposite never works.” I hope that every day, I practice that.

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What Happened?

I’ve been quiet the last few months. Just busy with seeing and doing and experiences. But also with practical matters like downsizing more, selling my house, visiting my friends and family back home. I just was in those moments and didn’t feel like I had anything I wanted to write or say. I refuse to force something out of myself if it’s not there.

Could this be anymore Wyoming?

But I need an update. For me. Maybe for you. A “this is where I am” post. So much has already changed in the last year. There was a lot of letting go and it’s helped me grow tremendously as a person. I don’t know that I realized how much this all would change the way I saw things. Not just the world, but also myself. It’s one of those situations where somewhere inside you kind of expect it, but when it starts happening you have a moment where it’s like, wait… Did I sign up for this?

These are a few things that have changed from year 1 to year 2 of our traveling.

  1. I am drinking much, much less. Basically not at all. The first year out, we would seek out breweries or local craft beer to drink. This translated to me drinking every day. I am a creature of excess. Never just 1 of anything. This led me to drinking more than I needed to or even wanted to (because alcohol is addictive). I decided it was no longer adding value to my life and quit.
  2. I am running much, much less. In fact, I am barely running at all. I have signed up for one race and haven’t even completely committed to running it. Not only did asthma change what I was capable of doing, it made me wonder why I was doing it at all. This has been a difficult transition for me, one that I haven’t readily or easily accepted, but the reality is, I’m not sure running is adding much value either. It doesn’t mean I won’t come back to it at some point, but it does mean that right now I won’t be doing much.
  3. I am not nearly as homesick as I was the first year. I was homesick the entire time we were on the road last year. I ached for the moments I would visit or someone would visit me. Enough that I wondered if I would be willing to leave once we went back to deal with our house. And then we got there. And we emptied our house and helped our kids settle into their new places and put the house up for sale. It was like a switch was flipped. I knew that I didn’t want to live there anymore. When we left this time, none of that aching came with us. This doesn’t mean I don’t miss my kids or friends. Of course I do! But it just means that I am more settled into this lifestyle choice we have made.
  4. I recently read a quote that said, “What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you are going to do – especially in other people’s minds.  When you are traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon. Talk about a quote that resonated so loudly with me that it was like a roar. I can be whoever I want. I don’t have anyone wondering why I am doing something that seems out of the ordinary when I travel because no one I am around knows what ordinary is. And that is the most liberating thing I have ever realized. I am not my past when there is no one around to remind me of it. (And yes, I know that I don’t have to be my past anyway, but that’s a different discussion and lots of therapy sessions.)

I know I have not posted much lately. I have had many thoughts rolling around in my head and have jotted them down, but then I walk away and wonder if I need to say that or post that or express that. I guess that partly depends on what I am doing on this blog. Am I writing it for you or for me? I am writing mostly for me. I need to have a record to go back to and remind myself of where I started and what has happened because it helps me focus on where I am going.

We have been back on the road for about 7 weeks now. It’s been amazing. It’s like every place we have gone I am awestruck. These places exist? This is on our planet? Incredible! I think part of what has made it so exciting is the fact that the person on the year 2 journey isn’t the same as the person who was on the year 1 journey. I am working very hard to stay in these moments and not look too far into the future about how things will be different, but I do find myself wondering if this has changed me so much in just a year, how will I be different another year from now? I hope that as we go forward, the changes that are taking root will continue to grow and expand.

Just out seeing some amazing things

I hope that as I learn more, I find more of a direction to go with this blog. But until then, it’s just going to stay a little diary of sorts. Not necessarily of where I have gone and what we did (I use Instagram for that), but more of a chance to remember how I felt and who I have become.

One Small Thing

I want to tell a story about why the Smoky Mountains are so special to me and to Shannon. A few people who read this little blog already know the tale of the hike, but a few people don’t. I feel like it’s a special story that’s worth sharing.

Shannon and I came to the Great Smoky Mountains in the fall of 2010. Things were tense in our marriage. Discussing divorce tense. We had been struggling for a little while and things were ugly and horrible and we weren’t sure we could work things out. We had been married 12 years and it looked like we weren’t going to make it to lucky number 13.

First let me clarify things were not magically better after this trip. We still had a lot of work to do. We had marriage counseling and arguing and navigating. We had to learn what works for our marriage. Which is different than what may work for someone else’s marriage. It was a process and took time. But it was this trip that helped turn the corner. We didn’t know we were at a crossroads when we came to the park the first time. We just happened to take the fork that led to a saved marriage instead of the one that led to the demise.

Our first hike out was to Ramsey Cascades. It was an 8 mike moderately difficult out and back hike. It was the first time I can remember ever doing anything even remotely like it. Shannon did lots of outdoorsy stuff with the scouts, but I was not an outdoorsy girl. Bugs! Animals! Plants that make you itch! In hindsight, I have no idea what made me think that this was the vacation I wanted, but here we were! Hiking shoes and water packs and nature! Because this was a new experience for me, everything fascinated me. Oh! Look at that leaf! Have you ever seen a leaf so magnificent? Oh! That little creek! Oh! Those rocks are amazing! This moss! Those trees! The view! Every. Single. Thing. It can make hiking with me challenging, but I’d also like to think that it makes it more interesting.

Early in the hike. That mustache… haha!

Shannon and I set off, not knowing that the next 8 miles was going to change everything. He’s taken the lead. I am following slowly behind. I stop about every 5 minutes to examine another leaf, tree, rock, view I hadn’t seen. He’s going. And then realizing I’m not behind him. And backtracking. And then going. And backtracking. You get the idea. Shannon was very focused on getting to the cascades. I was very focused on all of it. He’s walking quickly and moving up the elevation with purpose. I’m ambling along like a 2 year old at a toy store. Literally. Not only am I fascinated by the beauty of it, I’m a little person. Sometimes making the climbs is like scaling a mountain. I have short arms and legs and so I scramble instead of climb. I scoot instead of jump. It can be a bit challenging at times. I’m short like a child, but I have the fears that come with age. Will I fall? Am I going to turn an ankle? Oh, Lordy, that’s a steep drop off… These are not things children consider.

I can be a little obnoxious.

So we are going along, slowly (really slowly) making our way toward our destination. Shannon is growing frustrated by my constant stopping and not saying anything until he is far enough ahead to be annoying. I’m growing frustrated that the pace he is setting is faster than my little legs can keep up. Finally, in a moment of sheer irritation, I yell at him that I can’t keep up. He’s moving too fast. I’m not having fun. He’s not enjoying the hike because all he can think about is getting to the end. I’m not enjoying the hike because I can’t take a minute to explore things I’ve never seen.

And so he stops.

And he waits for me to catch back up.

And he says, you’re right. We aren’t having fun. You can walk in front. You can set the pace. This way we can get there, but I won’t lose you when you stop to explore, I won’t have to come back to find you. I don’t mind letting you walk in front.

It seems like a small thing. Maybe it seems like an obvious thing. But that small gesture changed everything.

Not only did it help Shannon slow down and spend a minute seeing things that were right in front of him, but it helped me stay focused on the goal. More significantly, that small gesture demonstrated what kind of person Shannon was. He was more concerned with what he could do to make it enjoyable for me (and us) than he was with what he felt was important to him. He sacrificed his needs for mine. He put me before himself.

We made it to the cascades. We sat there and enjoyed the sounds of the water rushing down the rock. We enjoyed the way the trees and bushes surround it like a little cave. We took pictures and laughed and had a snack and touched rocks and moss. He contemplated. I played around.

Ramsey Cascades!

And that was how spent the next week. Hiking. Exploring. Experiencing. I set the pace. He kept us moving forward and on the path. It’s that little moment that changed the way we responded to each other. We realized that we were good without each other, but we were better together.

As I stated in the beginning, it’s not perfect. We still argue and sometimes I’m saying one thing and he’s hearing something different and we have to stop and figure out what the other person is trying to communicate. We have moments. But ultimately, I know there is no one else so perfectly meant to be my person the way he is. No one else so willing to put his own desires aside so I can walk in front. He (hopefully!) knows that I’m his person. I’m the one that slows him down to look around and not miss the details. We work.

Shannon has quite the eye for beautiful things.

So when I come to the Smokies, I smell the forest and the earth and see the mist settling in the hillsides and the way the mountains gently roll along the landscape, I remember that hike. I remember that shift. It’s my happy place.

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

I think it’s time to talk about depression. I avoid the subject as a general rule, because really, who wants to listen to someone complain when it looks like they have it all.

I know what you’re thinking. What do I possibly have to be depressed about? I travel full time. I have a super supportive husband. My kids made it to adulthood. We own a house, 2 cars, and a RV. On and on the list of wonderful things could go.

But the problem with depression (and any other chronic illness, mental or physical) is that it doesn’t just go away because I want it to or because I have a great life. Depression travels with me. Just like asthma, it’s always there. It doesn’t care if I am living the life others might dream about. Depression is as much a part of my life and who I am as having brown eyes or being short. It just is.

I have really struggled with the fact that I have been depressed at all since we left. I have had difficulty accepting that I have days where sadness envelopes me and it’s a battle to not just lay in bed. What reason do I have to even feel this way? I get angry with myself. Just get up! Go do stuff! You will feel better once you do. No one expects the asthmatic to just get over it, but for some reason, despite all of the information available to us, most of us still think depression is something that we can just snap out of.

I have spent my entire adult life battling this beast. I’ve taken antidepressants, read self-help books, cleaned up my diet, exercised, prayed, cried, sat in counseling, anything to wake up and not have this cloud always in my view. Maybe miles and miles away, but always within sight. Nothing makes it go away. There are things that help me manage it better. Exercise, for example. I’ve often wondered how much worse things would seem if I didn’t exercise. The times that I have been injured and unable to workout have been some of my darkest days. Having dealt with fractures that laid me up for 3 months at a time, I can say with certainty that exercise at least keeps me from the deepest parts of my sadness.

I was convinced that the worst of my depressive episodes came from being dissatisfied with the life I was living in Fort Wayne. I was bored. I was restless. I found myself thinking, this can’t be it. I hated the idea that I should own a house and plant a garden and live this life that felt like anything but authentic to me. I’m not saying those things are bad things, they were just not things that felt fulfilling to me. It’s not surprising considering I have always pushed back (eventually) at what was considered normal.

I was convinced that leaving, traveling full time and exploring places I had never been would free me from depression. That out there, doing something new, I would finally be free. I would be the optimist I have always wanted to be.

Where ever you go, there you are.

The reality of life is in that one sentence. I left. I moved. But, without even completely realizing it was going to happen, I had packed up my depression right along with my clothes and dishes and everything else. Leaving didn’t change the reality that I struggle with depression anymore than it changed my eye color.

I think it’s important that I talk about this. Maybe for me. Maybe for someone else. But mostly because in a land of instagram perfect posts, where it appears that everyone is having a grand time and doing grand things, the reality is, some people struggle. I have been critical of myself for not always enjoying things. I look at pictures or read posts and wonder what I’m doing wrong. How is it that I am missing this constant joy others seem to be experiencing so fully. And the truth is, I’m not missing out on the joy. But I am experiencing it differently. I have depression as a companion and sometimes that darkens my days and makes me question what I’m doing and why.

Here’s the deal. I get depressed. I get depressed in familiar places and unfamiliar places. I have no explanation for why. I just do. Traveling full time did not cure me. Comparing my journey to the journey of others who seemingly are having all of the fun is as bad as comparing my body to all of the instagram perfect bodies. It’s not reality. I have to go through this my own way. Which means some days I feel the joy and excitement and happiness. And some days, the darkness settles in and I have to force myself to make any good decisions. Depression travels with me. Just like asthma. Just like anything mental or physical.

The reason I’m putting this out there is because I want to be real about what this journey has been like. I don’t want to give out the false idea that every moment has been grand and delightful. There have been many, many moments of grand delight. The good greatly outweighs the bad. I just wanted to put my voice out there and say it’s sometimes difficult. So that if someone else is traveling full time and questions if they are doing it wrong, they can see they aren’t alone. If someone is considering doing this because they will be able to escape parts of who they are, they will understand, it’s still you going on the journey. It shouldn’t stop you. It is just a reality check.

I have no plans to not continue traveling. I’m just learning that it’s okay if my journey is peppered with some struggle. The good outweighs the bad. Until it doesn’t, we will go out. Driving off into the sunset…

Transitions

I can’t believe it. One second, we are pulling away from the only place we have ever lived and the next, it’s 7 months into a journey. Every time we move to a new place, I have to transition. Sometimes it’s super easy. If we have been at a spot for a short while or we are just moving to another place in the same city, it doesn’t feel like an upheaval. I know where the store is or where the Starbucks is or where I can do laundry. But when we move to a different city, it’s like a foggy day. I can’t see. I don’t know where I’m going. I feel a bit lost and confused. It always takes a few days to get my bearings and feel settled in. It’s kind of ironic that a person who chooses this lifestyle ends up feeling this way.

I have accepted these feelings as part of the process, and yet, I always end up surprised that I feel that way. A dear friend reminds me every time that it takes a few days and that I always hate the new place and wish I was in the old place (with the exception of Branson). She’s right. Within a short time, I’m cozy and settled in again. Forgetting that I was hating the new place and capable of seeing the amazing things in this spot.

The takeaway? That even though I picked this lifestyle, this constant changing landscape, I still have to grow and fight through the feelings that want to keep me rooted to the familiar and safe. I picked this life because I wanted to make myself uncomfortable. And see amazing things. And expand my horizons. And meet people. And say hello to old friends. I wanted to grow.

Transitioning will always be hard. But I know that even if I had stayed in my hometown, life would change around me and I would still have moments where I have to say goodbye or change the familiar, safe way of doing things because life is not a stagnant pool. It flows around us.

So I will keep traveling. I’ll keep moving my tiny home from place to place. I’ll keep making myself uncomfortable and growing because of the discomfort.

Adapt. Change. Plan a Different Route.

People think I’m impulsive. I look that way to a lot of people. But really, I’m a planner. I like to know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, who, where. Basically, all of the details. Living this lifestyle has forced me to shake some of that off. I can’t always have all the details planned out and so I have to adapt and be ready to change something last minute. No more signing up for races months and months in advance and planning the run schedule and travel schedule around those plans. Adapt. Change. Plan a different route.

Just over the last 2 months, there has been a lot of change. Change that was forced on me by asthma. Change that occurred because our ideas have changed. Change that will bring bigger changes. But all of those changes have chipped away at my control-freak a bit more and more, leaving me exposed to the reality that I can not control every thing anyway, so why not just roll with the punches?

For example, I had signed up for the Rock ‘n Roll Phoenix 5k and half marathon way, way back in November. I had just finished 3 half marathons and a full. I was getting ready to do a 5k, full and then another half. I like to have things out there to keep me active. I knew my bestie was coming to visit me and I thought, wow! This will be so much fun! We can run these races together! We hadn’t run a race together in months and months! And then I got sick. Which turned into asthma. Now I know that a lot of people already know this, so why am I rehashing it again? Because the point is that I didn’t just not do these things. I adapted. Changed. Planned a different route. I didn’t just accept that this thing was robbing me of my ability to run. I figured out a way to do the thing that I loved anyway.

That’s the thing about living in a tiny space and traveling around the USA, you have to find a way to adapt because things can change in a minute.

We left Tucson a couple of days ago and started east, not because we were ready to head back, but because we have decided to let go completely of our sticks and bricks life and commit fully to this lifestyle. Yes, we have a race in Cincinnati that was on the calendar, but we had considered skipping it and committing to just staying west. We still have to much to see, so much that needs to be explored. But that’s why we changed things up. Because there is so much still to see. It’s hard to live in this reality when there is still the reality of our hometown always whispering (or shouting, depending on the weather) that we haven’t let go yet. Adapt. Change. Plan a different route.

I’ve neglected the things I want to say here because I’ve been so immersed in what is happening to me in the moment, but I need a record of this. I don’t want to be a month or a year down the road and not remember how I got here or change the way it happened as I recall things. I want to have a record of the growth involved.

This last 3 months has been incredible.

Adapt.

Change.

Plan a different route.

But the next leg… the one we started on the day we left Tucson? That’s bringing about the first steps to even more.

November (the Month That Tried to Kill Me)

You know that feeling you get when something just zooms right by and you have to almost ask yourself if it really happened? I would say that sums up my November. After we left Fort Wayne, we drove to Indy to run my 6th and final (really, it’s my final) Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. I had been so sick the weeks leading up to this race, but I was thinking I was on the mend (little did I know how wrong I was) and I knew I would do whatever it took to get through this race. Our friends, Sue and Tim, were going to be in Indy since Sue was running the half and I was looking forward to the time with them. I was excited for Sue, too. She has struggled with her training, but her determination to do things anyway inspires me. I was channeling some of that for myself.

It was difficult, but I finished and was pleased to put that race behind me.

Shannon, me and Sue at the beginning of the race

The race was on Saturday and we left for Oklahoma the next day. Shannon was flying to Wilmington from Tulsa and we had to settle in for our second and final marathon of 2017.

I had to do stuff alone. I HATE doing things alone. I always want someone to experience things with me. Someone I can later look back and say, hey, remember that time we went and did this thing? Yeah, that’s great!

But Shannon travels enough for work, that I definitely have to try and get out there more and more. So I went and visited the world’s tallest (allegedly) totem pole. My health was deteriorating, but I was thinking I was just lonely and that’s why I was off, so I didn’t do nearly as much as I had planned.

Totem pole sights

Shannon returned later that week and we went and saw the Blue Whale of Catoosa. It was amusing, but I’m not sure the hype matched the sight. At least I can say we visited it.

Shannon getting a whale’s nose view

The weekend of November 19-20, we participated in the Route 66 5k and Marathon. This was going to be the tipping point for me. I had been feeling tired and under the weather, but I just kept thinking it was the weather or the chill in the air. I had no idea I was actually sick because I rarely get very sick.

After the 5k

And at the finish of the marathon

The race was amazing. One of the best I’ve ever run and I would recommend it to anyone who wanted a race that was organized by runners. I loved that even though I was incredibly miserable, people still were cheering us on and I felt the encouragement I needed, because I really have no idea how I got through it. The second half was 10x harder than the first. I could barely breathe and my body was not cooperating the way I was expecting. I thought I had finally just reached my limit. Some people can run 40 marathons in a year, and I was just concluding that I wasn’t one of them. I still wasn’t grasping that I was sick. As you may have gathered at this point, I suck at knowing when I’m actually sick and not just being a baby.

I should have gone to the doctor that day, but it would take me another whole week to go. We left for Roswell that evening to drive a few hours.

The next day, I determined I needed to get to Roswell to find a doctor. I was really struggling to breathe. I felt like I was breathing through a straw and realized this was not normal so I needed to see what was up. Life had other plans.

I guess it’s time for us to blow a tire

Shannon was driving fairly aggressively (for him) to get us to Roswell. He wanted us to get to the doctor and was determined to do it before they closed. The tire just tore apart right in front of me. I’m sure it was quite scary for him to feel the jerk in the trailer, but I can tell you that it was scary for me to have a piece of tire flying right at me. We pulled over so Shannon could change it (of course). It ripped a hole right in the underside of the trailer. All the way into the bathroom. Right under the water lines. And yet, we somehow managed to avoid damaging the water lines. Yes, there is a hole and damage to the metal, but we dodged a bullet (or a tire) and I was thankful for that. However, we didn’t make it to the doctor.

I, foolishly, kept talking myself out of going. I knew I had bronchitis and I knew that there wasn’t a lot they could do except tell me to rest and drink lots of water and all that. So we didn’t even attempt to go on Tuesday. Well, I woke up worse on Wednesday. Finally, after gasping my way through a good portion of the day, I agreed to go. Except that the place we tried to go wasn’t open (despite saying they were open), so they sent us over to a different place. A place that was apparently not taking anyone else that day. I’m stubborn and refused to go to the emergency room, so we just went back home. I just had to get over it. No one dies from bronchitis!

Thursday, I felt okay enough that we went and did some alien visits. I had about 2 hours before I was exhausted and suffocating and just needed to go home and cough for hours.

One of the many alien themed signs in Roswell

After spending 2 days of sleepless nights and barely breathing, Shannon demanded that we find a doctor no matter how far we had to drive Sunday morning. We ended up in Carlsbad (about an hour and a half from Roswell). Shannon’s concern outweighed my stubbornness and we were at a clinic right when they opened. The np was fantastic. I guess I shouldn’t trust my own mind at times such as these. I just kept thinking I would get better without help. Really, I was heading for pneumonia. Or worse. It has to be the sickest I have been in ages and now that I am finally feeling better, I can look back and see how long I was actually sick.

One of the Bottomless Lakes outside Roswell

I feel like the month is basically a blur. It’s a good thing that we are traveling more, because it would have been a highly disappointing vacation.

It made me want to make sure that I don’t squander the time. That I take each opportunity and make it something. This IS something. When we left Fort Wayne, in November, I said goodbye. A real goodbye, because it might be the place I’ve lived, but it’s not my future. I think up to that moment, I was so focused on going home that I wasn’t allowing myself to accept that this was real. I was thinking about missing people or missing things that were familiar. For some reason, when we left this time, with no return date in mind, I let it all go. And while being sick has sucked more than I can say, I know that I’m here, right now, doing this thing. And I want to be present for it. I don’t know when circumstances could change and we might have to do something different. But if you spend too much time looking back at what you left or too much time looking forward to what the future is, you can’t enjoy where you are.

I’m not writing this to be deep or emotional, but more of a reminder to myself. I write all of this as a way to record what was happening in our lives during this time. I need to remember that when I was homesick or sick-sick, that I was too cloudy to enjoy all the moments I have. Well, clarity came with wellness.

We will celebrate our Christmas in Tucson and then bring on 2018. I have a feeling it’s going to be one hell of a year!